Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey is an excellent book that probably almost everyone has heard of. Millions of people have read it, but unfortunately many people don’t make the commitment to actually apply the habits in their everyday life. If they did, it’s a “can’t miss” success formula. However, it is not an “instant fix” formula that is the rub for many.
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7 Habits of Highly Effective People - by Stephen R. Covey
Anybody can drastically improve their effectiveness if they simply take the time to master what Covey is trying to convey to them. The beauty of these habits is just that, they are habits. You don’t have to change your personality, to become effective. You have to adopt new habits. Once a habit becomes part of your daily routine, the effectiveness just kicks in automatically.
Covey argues, our viewpoint needs to be driven by a principals-based approach, to live our life according to principals we value and hold dear. These principals are permanent and unchanging – like a rock in a storm.He states that we can build our self-confidence by making personal commitments to ourselves – and keeping them. Each time we do, our self-confidence increases. We live our life according to certain “scripts” that we’ve acquired and developed along the way. In fact, as intelligent beings, we have a “space” between the stimulus and the reaction which allows us to create our own scripts.
Our relationship with ourselves and others is based on deposits and withdrawals to emotional bank accounts. Every time we honor a commitment, we make a deposit. Every time we break one, we make a withdrawal. The key point here is to never make a commitment unless you’re sure you can honor it, and if you can’t honor it, do your best to explain why. Don’t take your commitments casually.
Take, for example, the problem of stress. Well, one major cause of stress and burnout is that people are constantly living in “crisis mode” – i.e. going from one crisis to another. Covey shows how to deal with that. He has a very simple habit (which will take some effort to implement in spite of that, just because most of us habitually do not do this) by which you can prevent crisis from occurring in the first place, or at least prevent crisis from being as bad when they do occur.
Another thing that was very helpful to me was his chapter on pro-activity. Basically, we might not always get to choose our circumstances (all of us have been in circumstances we did not want to be in before), but we can all choose how we respond to these circumstances.
An interesting exercise he performs regularly with college students: visualize that you only have this semester/quarter to live. During that time, you are to stay in school as a good student. What would you do differently? It has apparently had some amazing results. It’s interesting to think about; too often we lose sight of what’s really important I think.
7 Habits of Highly Effective People Summary
7 Habits of Highly Effective People Summary of Habit 1: Be Proactive
Principle: I am free to choose and am responsible for my choices.
To be effective we need to focus our time and energy. The things we are concerned is seen as our “Circle of Concern”. There are things we can do something about, that can be described as our “Circle of Influence”. When we focus our time and energy in our Circle of Concern, but outside our Circle of Influence, we are not being effective. However, we find that being proactive helps us expand our Circle of Influence. The essence here is to work on things you can do something about.
7 Habits of Highly Effective People Summary of Habit 2: Begin With the End in Mind
Principle: Mental creation precedes physical creation.
All things are created twice. We create them first in our minds, and then we work to bring them into physical existence. By taking control of our own first creation, we can write or re-write our own scripts, thus taking some control and responsibility for the outcome.
7 Habits of Highly Effective People Summary of Habit 3: Put First Things First
Principle: Effectiveness requires the integrity to act on your priorities.
Time management is an essential skill for personal management. The essence of time management is to organize and execute around priorities. Methods of time management have developed over time. A matrix can be made of the characteristics of activities, classifying them as urgent or not urgent, important or not important. List the activities screaming for action as “Urgent”. List the activities contributing to your mission, value or high-priority goals as “Important”.
7 Habits of Highly Effective People Summary of Habit 4: Think Win-Win
Principle: Effective, long-term relationships require mutual respect and mutual benefit.
7 Habits of Highly Effective People Summary of Habit 5: Seek First to Understand Then to Be Understood
Principle: To communicate effectively, we must first understand each other.
We often prescribe before making a proper diagnosis when communicating. We should first take the time to deeply understand the problems presented to us. The real key to influence is example – your actual conduct. Your private performance must square with your public performance. Unless people trust you and believe you understand them, they will be too angry, defensive, guilty or afraid to be influenced. Skills of empathic listening must be built on a character that inspires openness and trust and high emotional bank accounts.
7 Habits of Highly Effective People Summary of Habit 6: Synergize
Principle: The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
The exercise of the other habits prepares us for synergy. Synergy means the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The relationship which the parts have to each other is a part in and of itself – the most empowering, unifying and exciting part. The essence of synergy is to value differences – to respect them, to build on strengths, and to compensate for weaknesses. The way to achieve synergy is through the creative process, which is terrifying, because you never know where the creative process will lead you.
7 Habits of Highly Effective People Summary of Habit 7: Sharpen The Saw
Principle: To maintain and increase effectiveness, we must renew ourselves in body, heart, mind, and spirit.